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Hammarberg in Sukhum: who’s right about the rights?2009-02-13 15:10
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg is now on a work visit to Sukhum discussing the humanitarian situation in the republic with its authorities.
At the start of the meeting with the republic's Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba the European Commissioner outlined the objective of his visit:
"I would like to learn about the situation in the region from you, - his words are quoted by Kavkazsky uzel. - Protection of human rights is part of our responsibilities. We have done a lot to support South Ossetian people and overcome the consequences of the August crisis. We would like to see on site how the August events reflected the human rights situation in Abkhazia".
Certainly Hammarberg was informed on "the human rights situation". "We did our best for the residents of Kodory Valley villages not to get hurt, - Sergey Shamba specified. - They were provided with a humanitarian corridor they made use of". According to the minister the Georgian authorities deliberately overestimate the number of refugees that fled from Kodory Valley last August adding servicemen to that figure. Shamba also drew Hammarberg's attention to the fact that long before last August events both Abkhazia and South Ossetia had called on international intermediaries to investigate on Georgia's unprecedented militarization. In reply they had reassuring statements on impossibility of an assault.
The Council of Europe Commissioner was visibly unprepared for such pressure. He was forced to refer to the independence of his structure within the Council of Europe. "Our main task, - his words are quoted by Gazeta - is to contribute to protection of human rights".
It looks like he decided to demonstrate his commitment to "protection" suggesting that an office should be opened in disquiet Galsky district to Sergey Bagapsh. However the president did not back the initiative reasonably noting that the Ombudsman (Georgy Otyrba) was actively cooperating with civil society representatives protecting rights of the residents of this district".
It is noteworthy that now there is the UN HR office operating in Sukhum. And new European experts are not welcome there. It is sufficient to recall president Bagapsh's phrase last year that there would be no EU monitors in the republic. The reminder seems to quite appropriate here. Besides how can Europe (allegedly advocating human rights) be trusted when most EU member states refuse to issue entry visas to Abkhazian citizens thus violating their rights?